Group Coordinator Diane L. has a deep knowledge of history and a knack for getting her group excited to travel the world. Here, she shares four fun facts about Florence.
While touring Florence, Italy, it is so easy to overdose on cathedrals, basilicas, and outstanding art. There’s even a name for it: Stendhal Syndrome, also known as “Florence Syndrome.”
So what to do when you need a break from all the beautiful churches and paintings? Take a breather while still learning about local culture and seeing the sights! Here are a few fun facts to know about Florence—and ways to fill your free time.
1. Behind the Uffizi Gallery sits the Museo Galileo
Galileo received his formal education in Florence, and while he did not receive a university degree he did develop the Universal Law of Acceleration. He also supported the Copernican theory with his research and was placed under house arrest by the Church, as this was considered heresy at the time. This expansive museum features many of the scientist’s achievements as well as his tools, including telescopes, globes and models.
Museo Galileo: Piazza dè Giudici, 1, 50122 Florence, Italy
2. Salvatore Ferragamo has a shoe museum
Yes, shoes! Most people can’t afford this designer’s signature pieces, but anyone can check out his style up close at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo. Throughout the 1920s, the Italian-born legend made unique handmade footwear—which continues to be loved by celebrities today. The Florence headquarters has rotating exhibitions that feature footwear worn by screen legends including Lauren Bacall and Audrey Hepburn.
Museo Salvatore Ferragamo: Piazza Santa Trinita 5, 50123 Florence, Italy
3. There is a moving tribute to American veterans lies just outside the city
About 7.5 miles south of Florence sits the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial. The seventy acres of ground was liberated by the 6th South African Armored Division of the U.S. Fifth Army on August 3, 1944. The U.S. does not pay for the space, as the Italian government granted its free use as a permanent burial ground. This cemetery is one of many in 15 countries around the world run by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Most travelers have heard of or visited the 172.5-acre cemetery in Normandy; this one is run by this same commission. Along with the rows of marble crosses, visitors of the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial can also see the Tablets of the Missing, which names 1,409 persons who remain missing in action. At the top of a sloping hill, there are atria that house inlaid marble maps that explain the battles fought in Italy by our Greatest Generation.
Florence American Cemetery and Memorial, 50023 Florence, Italy
4. You can shop inside, outside, and underground in Florence
There are three great areas to shop—all within walking distance of each other. Head to the Piazza Santa Maria Novella and duck underground to take advantage of merchants selling their wares in the railway station. For outdoor browsing, seek out the San Lorenzo Market, the largest of the street markets, where you can enjoy the food and wares being sold along Via dell’Ariento. You may choose to stop and shop, but strolling along is also very enjoyable. Just west of Piazza della Signoria, you’ll find Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, a towering building that houses many vendors. Negozio fino allo sfinimento! (Shop until you drop!)